In September, after traveling more than 500 miles from Detroit to New York City, Samaiyah Abdur-Rahman reached the pinnacle of her small business career by participating in New York Fashion Week with The Model Experience in Brooklyn, NY.
The Detroit Mercy College of Business Administration sophomore’s clothing line had already been featured at Michigan Fashion Week, the Beauty In Me Fashion Show, Voyage Magazine, and sold at Old Soul Vintage in Detroit, but the Empire State experience pushed her to achieve more.
“The first fashion show we went to featured a men’s line. As I was sitting in the crowd, inside this breathtaking venue, all I could think was ‘How can I be on that stage; how can I be the designer that walks out on the catwalk after a showcase?’ It was fueling a fire inside me being in that environment—it was everything,” said Abdur-Rahman.
For a little more than four years, Abdur-Rahman has been painting for her first business, SJLCreations, but she only just began her digital designing career in December 2021. She launched her clothing line, Haus of Imani, this June at Michigan Fashion Week. Although her brand is only months old, she is no stranger to the fashion industry.
“I was first introduced to fashion when my aunt had her own clothing line when I was in high school,” said Abdur-Rahman. “She had a show at the Detroit Institute of Arts and while helping with that, I was able to see her make the clothes and dress the models. That show and seeing her work was what inspired me to express myself through art.”
The 22-year-old artist continues to find her creativity through similar experiences.
“Most of my inspiration comes from day-to-day life. I draw a lot from whatever I surround myself with whether that be galleries, walking through the zoo or visiting a park—I’m very influenced by my environment,” Abdur-Rahman said. “My faith is also one of my biggest influences.”
With her Christian faith being a main pillar in Abdur-Rahman’s life, it was easy for her to find her place at Detroit Mercy. But it was a religious studies course that gave her a new outlook on how to combine her two passions—art and God.
“Detroit Mercy has really helped shape my spirituality. Last semester I took a course with Fr. Kelly and we read an article about how your creativity brings you closer to God,” said Abdur-Rahman. “That lesson really stuck with me and made me think of my art and my devotion to God and how they can work together.”
Growing up with a mother who works as a social worker and father who teaches at Beech Elementary School in Redford, it didn’t take much for Abdur-Rahman to realize how she could use her skills to give back to her community in a positive way.
“I did a few painting workshops at my dad’s school, one for all the second graders and another for the entire staff to celebrate teacher appreciation week,” said Abdur-Rahman. “Those workshops were such a success that I started reaching out to shelters and youth centers and already have four workshops scheduled.”
Abdur-Rahman has hosted her painting workshops at COTS (Coalition On Temporary Shelter) Detroit, the Covenant House and Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, just to name a few.
“I love teaching people how to express themselves,” said Abdur-Rahman. “This portion of my work has been the most fulfilling by far.”
As a full-time student, business owner and volunteer, Abdur-Rahman has been steadily accomplishing whatever she sets her mind to and doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon.
“There are just so many possibilities for me right now, once I accomplish one goal, I just keep asking myself ‘OK, what’s next?’” said Abdur-Rahman. “I want to go to it all, Paris Fashion Week even London.”
But even as she continues to build and dream big, she makes it a point to appreciate all that she’s accomplished and those who’ve helped her along the way.
“Through all these experiences I’ve learned how important it is to have a team beside you,” said Abdur-Rahman. “I’ve also learned that it’s not always about the end goal, it’s more about how I get there. I keep reminding myself to enjoy the moment that I’m in.”
Since the New York trip, productions from both Haus of Imani and SJLCreations can be found in select brick and motor stores and cafes throughout Detroit and Brooklyn as well as on Abdur-Rahman’s website.